Sub Sub-editing

I’m probably the last person to whinge about the standards of journalism today. Shooting Parrots doesn’t claim to be typo free and while I may prefer proper grammar, I don’t feel hidebound by it either. Plus I’m not getting paid and it’s the product of my spare time, so I’ll whinge on regardless.

Here are a few examples of poor sub-editing from the past couple of days:

The Daily Mail describing the ongoing inquest into the death of drunken barrister Mark Saunders: “The officer, crouching beneath ballistic blankets directly in a child’s bedroom opposite Mr Saunders home….”

I’ll forgive them the blankets which I suspect were not really ballistic — it’s probably what the police call them — but crouching directly in the bedroom opposite, rather than crouching in the bedroom directly opposite? The meaning is different.

From a press release: “The European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) Committee on Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has today recommended the suspension of the marketing authorisation for Avandia because the benefits no longer outweigh the risks.”

Widely quoted in the media, but no-one was bothered to challenge the weasel wording as far as I could tell. The risks of Avandia have always outweighed the benefits. What they mean is that the EMA has only recently decided that this is the case.

Next, a quote from the leader of Suffolk Council: “The coalition requires lesser government and a bigger society and Suffolk County Council has responded to this change.”

Blame the Council’s press people this time, or maybe they actually wanted to make their leader look stupid. Lesser government can be taken to mean smaller in quantity or quality, or of less importance, but lesser is more commonly used as a comparator, ie worse government in this context. A simple less would have been better.

Finally, back to the Daily Mail for a sports report: “The 20-year-old was only on the field for 16 minutes and the first three of those were spent with his hands on his hips as a pitch invader — naked apart from his socks…”

That last one merited reading twice.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

4 comments… Add yours
  • Francisca 5th October 2010

    I’m a grammar cop too… 😀

  • Francisca 5th October 2010

    PS. Perhaps I should add that my “embiggening” on the post you visited was a joke. 😀

  • Polly 5th October 2010

    I think “embiggening” is a perfectly good word. There is nothing wrong with playing with the language when it is clealy intentional and conveys what you mean!

  • Avandia attorney 27th April 2011

    Very good site and it is a wonderful wealth of information. Keep on working good work.


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